I would like an illustration/graphic designed to accompany a feature article in the alumni magazine. The article focuses on the upcoming Ontario (Provincial) election. The parties are: Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontar…tion,_2018
The article is below. I thought a design that incorporated - predictions (magic eight ball, horoscope, fortune telling), with the party logos included somehow - maybe that is too cliché.
The illustration cannot be too provocative.
A Mug’s Game
Ontario’s Coming Election
By Nelson Wiseman
Predicting election outcomes is a mug’s game; one is likely to be wrong. Think back to the 2015 federal election. The polls and the pundits had the NDP leading and the Liberals a distant third when the election was called. We know what happened: 36 days later on election night Justin Trudeau’s Liberals swept into office with a commanding majority and the NDP lost more than half its seats, relegated to a weak third place.
As this is read in late spring (but written in snowy January), Ontario’s election of June 7 is but weeks away. Current indications are that the Conservatives will prevail but the last three Ontario elections, like the 2015 federal contest, remind us that election campaigns can be unpredictable affairs; it would be foolish to predict the outcome and the issues that will drive the coming election beyond suggesting some likely scenarios: the NDP will run third (it usually does), the Greens will fail to win a seat (they never have), no Independents will be elected (none have been in our lifetimes), and the other 13 parties registered with Elections Ontario—they include the Vegan Environmental Party, the None of the Above Party, the Equal Parenting Party, and the Stop the New Sex-Ed Agenda Party—will leave no mark beyond appearing on some ballots.
Prognosis requires diagnosis and here history may be instructive. Ontario’s three most recent elections turned on its head the political adage that governments get defeated rather than parties get elected. In those contests, the opposition Conservatives defeated themselves. As evidence of the Liberals’ vulnerability in 2007, the Liberals had lost 8 of the 10 by-elections held since the 2003 election that had brought them to power, some in seats they had won with commanding majorities. If the Liberals were to be re-elected, it seemed they could only hope to eke out a minority. Admitting weakness, Premier Dalton McGuinty mused that he could live with such a result. However, Conservative leader John Tory’s proposal to extend public funding to all religious schools proved toxic to his party, rescuing the flailing Liberals. They turned Tory’s position against him, knowing much of the public and some members of his caucus found his proposal unpalatable. Implicitly admitting defeat even before election day Tory changed his position, promising a free vote on the issue if elected. In 2011, an attempt by the Conservatives to exploit a proposed Liberal tax credit for hiring new Canadians alienated Toronto voters who shut out the Conservatives in the city. In 2014, Conservative leads in three polls, published in the first week of the campaign, vanished after the Liberals highlighted Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s vow to slash 100,000 public sector jobs, including teachers. The Conservatives were drubbed, the Liberals once again prevailed, and Hudak is now a real estate industry lobbyist.
The past is often prologue. As the Ontario election approaches, the Conservatives have been riding high. Forum Research released eight polls in 2017 on the standings of the parties; in all eight, the Conservatives had 40 percent or more support, a commanding lead, and the Liberals trailed the NDP in five of the polls. Leader-centric campaigns lead many people to vote based on their images of the party leaders. On that basis there is little succour for the governing Liberals: Kathleen Wynne was the least popular premier in the land and the least popular provincial leader as 2017 ended.
Ontarians’ relatively low level of engagement with provincial politics contributes to the difficulty of predicting the outcome of the coming election. Ontarians pay more attention to federal politics. Fewer than half the province’s electors cast ballots in the 2011 provincial election but over two-thirds voted in the 2015 federal election. A Globe and Mail reader can go for weeks if not months without encountering in its pages the name of an Ontario backbench MPP. This is inconceivable in the newspapers of other provinces. Furthermore, compared to residents of the other provinces, Ontarians are less likely to know or meet their MPP, since an Ontario MPP currently represents an average of 133,000 people, more by far than in any other province. In contrast, a Quebec MNA represents an average of 65,300 people, an Alberta MLA 49,000, a New Brunswick MLA only 15,000.
Various investigations by the Ontario Provincial Police have tarnished the provincial Liberal brand. Since the police are much more popular than politicians, when voters hear of the police investigating a political party or the government, many conclude there must be malfeasance. Police probes and in some cases charges related to the deletion of e-mails surrounding the gas plants boondoggle, the ORNGE air ambulance scandal, the Liberal nomination fiasco in a Sudbury by-election, and the deletion of documents related to a wind power company, have wounded the governing Liberals. So too have some of their policies including energy and electricity prices.
Controversies have also hounded the Conservatives. Complaints of interference in numerous party nomination meetings and alleged breaches of the party’s rules sparked mass resignations from a number of Conservative riding associations. However, the Conservatives are not the government and to most people such kerfuffles are the party’s, not the public’s, business. There is good reason for the Conservatives to be upbeat. The party signed up 17,000 members for a nomination contest in one constituency alone, Mississauga – Malton. According to one party official, the party counted only 12,000 members in the whole province a few years ago.
Conservative leader Patrick Brown is still largely unknown to many and an enigma to others. Like Stephen Harper he became his party’s leader with the backing of social conservatives and, like Harper, he has turned his back on them. Social conservatives frown on homosexuality and abortion; in Ontario they have opposed the Liberal government’s updated sex-education curriculum. However, after writing that he would scrap such a curriculum Brown backtracked, calling what he had written a “mistake.” Brown also became the first Ontario Conservative leader to lead an official party delegation in Toronto’s annual Gay Pride parade. As an MP, Brown voted (against Harper’s advice) for a motion opening the door to criminalizing late-term abortions, but once he became provincial party leader he declared, “Let me be very clear: I am pro-choice.”
What role will the NDP play in the June election? Unlikely to win or become the official opposition, the party may nevertheless gain powerful leverage. Its best hope is to hold the balance of power in a minority government situation. Leader Andrea Horwath is liked by the public but her party is often a victim of strategic voting. Many, including labour unionists whose sympathies are with the NDP,
often vote Liberal for fear of a Conservative victory. (There are of course exceptions to any generalization: Brown’s father twice ran unsuccessfully for the NDP).
As the 2018 Ontario election begins to take shape the Liberals are embattled, the Conservatives are thriving, and the NDP is drifting. Ontario, compared to other provinces, is relatively easy to govern. It is wealthy, unlike Atlantic Canada’s beseeching supplicant governments, and it does not experience the resource-dependent boom and bust cycles of the Western provinces. Of course, Ontario has also managed to avoid the type of never-ending identity debate that has plagued Québec.
Nelson Wiseman is a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Canadian Studies Program at University College.